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State Innovation Grants

EPA 2005-2006 State Innovation Grants Competition Pre-Proposals

Project title:

Water Quality Management Plan Amendments: Realizing Efficiencies through Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Internet Mapping Services (IMS) and Web-Based Document (Knowledge) Management Systems in the Six-County Northeastern Illinois Region.


Northeastern Illinois

NAME OF APPLICANT (LEAD): Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

PARTNER : Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC)

Collaborators: Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Exotic Species Consultation.

Project Contact: Kerry Leigh, Environment & Natural Resources Department, NIPC, 222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1800, Chicago, IL 60606 Telephone: 312-454-0400 Facsimile: 312-454-0411 Email: kleigh@nipc.org


The Illinois Environmental Protections Agency (IEPA) has assigned the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission the advisory responsibility for reviewing wastewater permits and wastewater facility plans for consistency with the Illinois Water Quality Management Plan for northeastern Illinois, including the six counties that are within the planning bounds of the Commission. This responsibility is integral to the IEPA’s successful enforcement of water quality regulations in northeastern Illinois and directly contributes to the protection of the region’s water quality. Key to the successful advisory role of the Commission is the review process through which all water quality amendment applications must undergo. The Commission completes environmental, demographic, and legal analysis to assess the applicant’s compliance with the Plan. The success of the review process depends upon the access, exchange, and integration of information among all parties involved in the review process including: the Commission, the IEPA, and additional review participants or stakeholders. This information exists in the form of paper and digital maps, applications (current and former), correspondence, and other documents that drive and finalize the application and review process.

Analysis of current water quality amendment procedures highlighted the potential for improvements to the review process by incorporating the following technologies: Enterprise Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Internet Mapping Services (IMS), and a web-based document (knowledge) management system. The application of these technologies has the potential to be applied statewide and would facilitate the review process by fostering enhanced collaboration, communication, and information dissemination among all participants. This would result in a streamlined review process that will ultimately allow the IEPA to better enforce environmental regulations that serve to protect this region’s water resources. The IEPA and the Commission proposes using the FPA amendment process in a pilot project that will be separated into three phases. The three phases can be summarized as follows:

During Phase 1, an “ Enterprise GIS” will be designed that will require prototype implementations of the Enterprise GIS to determine the most appropriate database design. This will be followed by an internal pilot project to establish a working system configuration to deploy data editing applications. Specific GIS files used in the FPA process will then be migrated to a file format (Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Geodatabase) for management within the Enterprise GIS. During this phase, numerous new opportunities to extend the functionality of these GIS datasets will be outlined.

Phase 2 will focus on the development of a web-based document (knowledge) management system. The web-based document (knowledge) management will be deployed using Microsoft’s SharePoint Services software. Using Microsoft’s SharePoint Services software, web portal(s) will be designed for both internal and external (public) usage to expedite workflow through electronic sharing of information. A web-based system will allow team collaboration on documents, tasks, contacts, events, surveys and other types of information.

Phase 3 will focus on the development of a web-based Internet Mapping Service. Using ESRI‘s ArcIMS and a secure server(s), applicants would submit their amendments electronically. Using “standardized” GIS data layers, applicants would be provided with mapping capabilities, tools, and functionality that would allow them to quickly generate their amendments and determine their consequences.

Phases I , II and III combine to provide stakeholders, including the IEPA, municipalities, public organizations, citizens, and various agencies, with easier access to all documents related to an amendment application. Ultimately, this will support and improve the procedures involved in the protection of water quality and watersheds.

Phase I

Goal: An appropriate geospatial file management system to support the Internet Mapping Service and NIPC’s internal FPA administrative process.

Process objectives (activities to accomplish):

  1. Catalog the GIS datasets necessary to support the amendment process. Target date: fall 2005
    • Catalog, document and qualify, using the Federal Geographic Data Committee’s (FGDC) Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM), all current GIS datasets used in the amendment process.
    • Determine recurring cost(s) associated with the maintenance of GIS datasets, including contracts and licensing of non-NIPC data.
Summary: Using the CSDGM, NIPC will gain a very clear understanding of its current and required GIS data needs.
  1. Determine the procedures for handling digital geospatial amendments submitted through the IMS. Target date: winter 2005/2006

Summary: With guidance from a Phase II assessment of “current policies and procedures,” the handling of digital geospatial amendments will be conceptualized. The use of “intelligence” embedded in digital geospatial applications will be studied with a view to automate the generation of textual descriptors for use in subsequent written documentation.

  1. Design the ESRI geodatabase. Target date: spring/summer 2006

Summary: It will be necessary for NIPC to follow a design process in its construction of a database to store GIS data. The outcome of a properly constructed database will be the satisfaction of key process objectives to achieve the set goal, and the support of organizational requirements. In addition, the database will be correctly configured to store the necessary data and accommodate different applications of the data. Further, data will be organized so that multiple users can access the same data. Other advantages of a robust database design are the appropriate representation of codes and organization of features, and the accommodation of different applications of the data.

  1. Geospatial data preparation. Target date: summer/fall 2006
    • “Clean-up”, editing and data conversion of the required GIS files.

Phase II

Goal: A web-based document (knowledge) management system that would permit file storage, team collaboration on documents, tasks, contacts, events, surveys and other types of information.

Process objectives (activities to accomplish):

  1. Clearly articulate NIPC’s focus and strategic vision. Target date: fall 2005
  2. Define success criteria for a web-based document (knowledge) management system. Target date: fall 2005
  3. Assess the current policies and procedures concerning the amendment process. Target date: spring/summer 2006
  1. Conceptualize the file management structure. Target date: spring/summer 2006

Summary: Using a series of meetings, presentations and informed research, staff will conceptualize the file management structure that best suits the amendment application process while taking into account the strategic information technology requirements of the agency as a whole. Discussion will include metadata attribution, as well as the use of taxonomic classifications to provide an effective means to store and retrieve data. A carefully articulated file management concept will lead to the development of an effective file storage system that will allow NIPC and its users to navigate to relevant files using intuition and logic. A clearly articulated file management concept will aid in an appropriate search engine design and deployment. The establishment of relevant metadata entities and attributes, in conjunction with taxonomic classifications will drive the search engine design and result in an effective data searching mechanism.

  1. Document the internal/external policy and procedural implications of using Microsoft’s SharePoint Services. Target date: fall 2006

Summary: In order for Microsoft’s SharePoint Services to be truly effective, the amendment application process should become an entirely digital process. However, an entirely digital process will require review, before implementation, to ensure that data integrity is maintained throughout the amendment application workflow. In consultation with the IEPA, and other relevant parties, a series of policies, procedural requirements, and infrastructure support mechanisms will be determined.

  1. Install Microsoft’s SharePoint Services and configure for network access. Target date: fall/winter 2006
  2. Customize Microsoft’s SharePoint Services and configure several interactions of the pilot configuration. Target date: winter 2006/2007
  1. Train staff in the use of the new technology. Target date: spring 2007

Phase III

Goal: Building on the potential of Internet mapping technologies, provide a credible and useful service to our regional constituents that enables them to efficiently and effectively submit their amendment applications electronically.

Process objectives (activities to accomplish):

  1. Identify the agency requirements and user needs to be served by the Internet Mapping Service. Target date: spring/summer 2006
    • Invite past amendment application participants and future participants to attend workshops to identify user needs.
    • Through workshops, determine additional GIS data and functional requirements for the IMS.
    • Define the purpose statement, using research conducted during workshops, to drive the development of the IMS.
Summary: Successful deployment of an IMS is contingent upon a full and complete understanding of the user’s needs. An overall assessment of the user’s needs will provide an important strategic “purpose statement” that will help facilitate the marketing of the IMS. The details of the user needs assessment will be used to conceptualize the look, feel and functionality of the IMS.
  1. Select design/consulting firm to develop the IMS. Target date: spring/summer 2006
  2. Design the IMS around the key agency requirements and user needs articulated through workshops and informed research. Target date: fall 2006-spring 2007
    • Invite past amendment application participants and future participants to prototype the IMS.
Summary: Prototyping the IMS with past and potential amendment applicants will help ensure that our wider audience of end users will be provided with the most applicable geospatial data, tools, and functionality to support the user’s electronic submission amendment applications, via the IMS.
  1. Develop a marketing and monitoring strategy for ongoing evaluation of the project. Target date: summer 2007

Summary: Once the IMS becomes available, a marketing strategy will need to be developed to alert our potential users, stakeholders, partners and collaborators to raise awareness and produce publicity. In addition, methods to evaluate the IMS and aspects of Phase II’s web-portals for “client and public access areas,” will be developed to collect reactions and opinions on the quality of the service(s) provided.

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